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Chapter 7

PSY315H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Sociolinguistics, Pragmatics, Lev Vygotsky

Course Code
Judy Plantinga

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Chapter 7: Learning to use language
Linguistic competence: ability to understand and produce well-formed,
meaningful sentences
Communicative competence: ability to use those sentences appropriately in
communicative interaction
oLearning to put together sentences is not enough for functioning of
oCommunicating with others
Q: Is she easy to get along with?
A: Do hens have teeth?
Not enough to know both sentence is well-formed
Sentence vs. Utterance
Sentence: a structured string of words that carries a certain meaning
Utterance: a sentence that is said, written or signed in a particular context by
someone with a particular intention, by means of which the speaker intends to
create an effect on the person who is being spoken to
oRefer to this as a speech act
oThink about example where one person asked a question and the other
person answered with a question – try to understand why that person
would answer with a question
Communicative Competence
Pragmatics: using language for different purposes; i.e. greetings, demanding,
oInforming – I am going to get a cookie.
oCommanding – Give me a cookie.
oRequesting – I would like a cookie please?
oContext contributes to meaning and the transmission of meaning depends
on any pre-existing knowledge we have of the speaker and the factors
around this being said
Need to have the ability to read between the lines
Discourse processes: language occurs in larger units than a sentences; it takes
certain skills to take on these longer conversations
oHow you introduce a topic of conversation, what rules guides staying on
topic, rephrasing what is misunderstood, how to use verbal ad non-verbal
oPart of it also includes how close you stand to someone when speaking,
how you use facial expressions and eye contact
Sociolinguistics: adjusting your language to the needs of the listener or situation
oi.e. we talk differently to babies than we do with adults; we give
background info to someone who does not know all the information; speak
differently in classroom versus outside

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oRules may vary across and within cultures and must consider the rules in
terms of one’s communicative partner
Pragmatics: Speech Act Theory
Speech act: utterance as a behavior; the notion that talking is “doing things with
Illocution: the speaker’s intent; the intended function of the act
oNot all communication is intentional – if we sneeze, it tell someone
something about us
oThe most purposeful communication is one that is intentional
oWe need to map a form to the function and the form may differ from the
intended function
First example – person meant to answer the question with a
oProblem, especially for young infants is that multiple forms may express
the same meaning
i.e. what is your name? and tell me your name
Have the same meaning but probably have a different
oThere is an intention to communicate
Locution: actual act of saying something; production
Perlocution: effect upon the listener; was the listener persuaded by what you
Pragmatic Development
Development of the speech act
oBefore communication with words, there are pre-verbal acts of
communication – children point to gain a response
oFirst of the parts to develop is perlocution
Infants communicate by crying; they may not be intending to
communicate but it has an effect on the listener
Until 10 or 11 months, the child is unaware for the potential of the
adult as an agent for fulfilling their desires
But its possible that the parental response is teaching them about
oSecond part to develop is illocution
Children become aware that they can use other people to gain what
they need; that other people can help them achieve goals
Can do this before they have speech
This type of speech is called proto-imperative  rather than a
speech act it’s a behavior that serves the function
Can request an object by pointing, stand with their arms
open to indicate they want to be picked up

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Proto-declarative also develop before language and that is the use
of an object to direct adults’ attention
oLocution begins when they begin to talk
Over the second year of life, children expand their use of
communicative functions; using more acts of communicative
intent, more types of communicative functions
By 24 months, they expand the range of speech and start talking
about absent objects (object permanence) and events (past and
future) and their imagination
With speech, there is an intention to communicate and there is an
effect on the listener
Persistence – may continue to cry until they get your
Modification – if you don’t pay attention, may modify their
Some of the per-verbal forms of communication is touching or
operating a toy, giving an item to another person to get them to pay
attention, pointing or throwing an item
Expanding range of function  chart on chapter note
Comparison chart
Communicative attempts at 12, 20, and 32 months – there is a definite increase
Pragmatics flexibility  moving from one way of expressing things to multiple
oi.e. Hungry
Younger children may show it by crying
Older children may be cranky and can get to the stage where they
can tell you they are cranky
Conversation: communicative language involving sequences of connected
sentences and interchanges among people
Narrative: extended monologue
Development of Conversational Skill
Grice’s conversational maxims
Grice observed conversations and he determined that when people are talking
with each other they observe the cooperative principle
In discourse we take turns and we try to be cooperative
Without even realizing we’re cooperative; its not something we think about its
something that we do
We can even do it when we are not being cooperative socially
oi.e. can do it when we are angry and we will cooperate even during the
argument; will still take turns
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